In our Road to the Draft series, Tom E. Curran considers the defensive linemen who might draw the Patriots' interest in the NFL draft.
This draft class boasts a number of intriguing prospects, or as Curran puts it:
"[The] 2014 NFL draft is stocked with giant men who can wreck offensives from the interior."
The Patriots have a pair of veterans on the D-line in Tommy Kelly and Vince Wilfork. Of course, another name for 'veteran' is 'old' and the Patriots would do well to invest in a top talent heir sooner, rather than later.
Dare to Dream
Aaron Donald - Pittsburgh
Unanimous All American (2013)
6’1 , 285lbs
Career - 29.5 sacks
Most mock drafts have Donald going in the top 15, but if he were to fall, the Patriots might be tempted to consider the smaller D-lineman with great potential.
Hold the Line
Stephon Tuitt - Notre Dame
Second-team AP All American (2012)
6’6 Weight 304
Career - 21.5 sacks
Tuitt draws comparisons to Richard Seymour, and Patriots fans remember (longingly) the days when Seymour caused chaos on the line.
Ra’Shede Hageman - Minnesota
3rd Team AP All-American
6’6 310 lbs
Career: 8 sacks in 33 games
"If he puts it all together, people think he might be the best defensive lineman in this class," says Curran.
Several projections have pegged Hageman to land in New England.
Dominique Easley - Florida
6’2; 288 lbs
College Career: 72 tackles
Easley comes with some serious concerns in his medical history, having torn his ACL in both knees during his college career. When healthy, however, he's explosive on the inside.
"He’s the kind of buy-low prospect the Patriots have always loved to take a flier on," says Curran.